Maputo – Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano on Friday praised Cuba for its selfless assistance to Mozambican development in the early years of the country’s independence.

He was speaking at the 11th  Congress of the ruling Frelimo Party, in the southern city of Matola, shortly after dozens of Mozambicans who had studied in Cuba, and teachers who had taught at the schools for Mozambican children set up on Cuba’s Isle of Youth greeted the Congress.

This marked the 40th anniversary of the Cuban decision to offer educational facilities to Mozambique in 1977.

Chissano, who was foreign minister at the time, recalled the meeting in Beira between the country’s first President, Samora Machel, and Cuban leader Fidel Castro. At this meeting, Castro apologised to Machel for the poor relations between Frelimo and Cuba during the Mozambican liberation war (referring to Frelimo’s rejection of advice from Che Guevara on how to run a guerrilla war).

Machel told Castro there was no need for any apologies, and the two men worked out how best Cuba could help in the development of the nascent Mozambican nation. It was then that Castro offered schools on Cuban soil, where Mozambican children would be taught, not only by Cubans, but by Mozambican teachers, since they would need to be steeped in Mozambican culture and Mozambican history.

Chissano recalled that there was a severe shortage of doctors in Mozambique, so Castro sent Cuban doctors. On one occasion 50 Cuban doctors arrived at once. They were willing to accept difficult working and living conditions, sometimes sleeping several in a room. And they were only paid by Cuba – the Mozambican Health Ministry paid nothing for them.

“It was said that Cuba was exporting revolution to Mozambique”, said Chissano. “The Cubans didn’t export revolution, they exported doctors, they exported health”.

Coincidentally, Friday also marked Samora Machel’s birthday. He would have been 84 years old, had he not died in a plane crash in 1986, widely believed to have been the work of the South African apartheid regime. – AIM.

October 2017
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